Guide to the Agricultural Scalability Assessment Tool
The following text draws heavily from the Guide to the Agricultural Scalability Assessment Toolkit (pdf below), developed by the E3 Analytics and Evaluation Project led by Management Systems International (MSI).
USAID’s Bureau for Food Security (BFS) and country missions have been implementing the Feed the Future (FTF) initiative since 2010. In many cases, small-scale innovations developed and introduced by FTF have since scaled up or are in the process of doing so. However, some innovations that could have gone to scale have not done so, have not reached their full-scale potential, or are not fully sustainable at scale. At the same time, the BFS has funded research by the Consortium of International Agronomic Research Centers (CGIAR) and innovation laboratories at major U.S. agricultural universities. This research has produced hundreds of innovations with varying potential to transform agriculture in developing countries, as well as more that are moving through the research pipeline.
USAID and partners alike need to better understand which innovations have the greatest potential for both successful scaling and significantly improving food security and reducing malnutrition across FTF countries and elsewhere. As a result, BFS hired the E3 Analytics and Evaluation Project to develop the Agricultural Scalability Assessment Toolkit (ASAT) to assess the scalability of agricultural innovations. It draws on 15 years of experience by MSI (the lead for the project) and its team in scaling innovations and programs in the developing world, as well as on the literature on scaling and diffusion of innovation. This work includes extensive experience assisting FTF project design and strengthening scaling strategies, and five case studies the MSI team conducted of successful scaling up of agricultural innovations through commercial pathways in developing countries.
Purpose of the Agricultural Sustainability Assessment Toolkit (ASAT)
The ASAT is designed to provide a qualitative appraisal of an innovation’s scalability. While innovations do have intrinsic features that may make them more or less scalable in general, most of the factors affecting scaling potential can only be assessed relative to a specific socio-economic context and the characteristics of target adopters. The ASAT provides information on the strengths and weaknesses of the innovation relative to scalability, the most promising scaling up pathways (i.e., commercial, public, or public-private partnerships), and information on the extent to which target contexts -- locations and populations – and their market and public-sector capacity currently facilitate scaling.
The ASAT is not meant to be the decision-making toolkit. Instead, the toolkit is intended to identify constraints to and opportunities for scaling. These will serve to inform decisions about whether, and where, to invest in the scaling up of specific innovations, or for further investment in research and development. The ASAT can also inform design efforts to improve the scalability of an innovation, improve and strengthen market and public-sector systems to facilitate scaling, or both. The ASAT’s greatest value is not the scoring per se, but in the assessments behind the scoring and the conversations provoked in making and justifying an assessment. It is strongly recommended that the ASAT be applied by a team comprised of at least three people: a researcher with knowledge of the relevant sector, a markets expert, and someone with considerable knowledge of the country (ies) or region(s) targeted for scaling.
Check out the Guide to the Agricultural Scalability Assessment Tool at the link below.